Flaxseed Oil and Depression

Flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help stave off heart disease. However, it may be too ineffecient at this job to be worth taking as a supplement. That said, there is some evidence that it may alleviate other health problems.

One of these is clinical depression. While it isn't clear that it actually does so, we do recommend trying it out as an anti-depressant since so many cases of depression must be dealt with on an individual basis. For instance, St. John's Wort may work for one person, but not another. Same goes for Prozac.

But what has the evidence shown so far?

One study examined the effects of omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed oil, on people with bipolar disorder. The omega-3s did not effectively treat the mania associated with bipolar disorder, but did help out with the depression aspect.

Another study published in Lipids in Health and Disease showed a definite link between omega-3 fatty acids and depression. While the study did not advise taking flax seed supplement for the sole purpose of combating depression, it did recommend mental healthcare experts be aware that proper nutrition, especially in regards the balance between omega-3 and omega-6, be paid attention to in depression patients.

So while we're skeptical of the ability of flaxseed oil in fighting this disorder, we believe it is worth a try in your search for an effective treatment.


Archives of General Psychiatry  Vol. 57 No. 7, July 2000

Lipids in Health and Disease 2004, 3:25